Domestic tourism in Vietnam Behind COVID-19 Pandemic Resurgence

Vietnam, COVID-19, Danang, crisis

Danang is at the centre of the new wave of covid cases in Vietnam (Photo: Centara)

While Vietnam has been praised for the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis with relatively few cases in the country -just over 400 infections and zero death until July 25, there was a spike in cases over last week end with Danang being the centre of the outbreak. It signals the end of a COVID-free Vietnam…

Vietnam traced its first COVID case back to January with a Chinese traveller who arrived to the country from Wuhan, the centre of the pandemic. Extremely strict social distancing measures – no more than 2 persons were allowed in public, tracing COVID-cases and sterilising areas where the virus had been active were put in motion. In parallel, the government announced the complete closure of international borders and the suspension of all international flights.

The totally isolated country then managed to control the pandemics with no local transmissions, attracting praise from the rest of the world for the containment of the virus. Vietnamese authorities were then very proud to tell that Vietnam had a 99-day streak of no new local cases. 

The strict lockdown has however a negative effect. The vanishing of social activities and tourism is taking its toll on the economy with small business bankruptcies and rising unemployment. In June. Vietnam decided to ease restrictions allowing domestic tourism to start again with packages to promote holiday within the country for local travellers.

All seemed to go smoothly ntil July 25, when first positive cases of COVID-19 were reported in Danang, Vietnam’s third largest city and a hotspot for tourism with its numerous beach resorts stretching up to Hoi An. The UNESCO listed heritage city is another very popular tourist area as it attracts over five million visitors a year.

Since July 25, Vietnam has seen a rapid spike into new COVID-19 cases. On June 30, the country had 355 recorded cases. On July 21, it passed the 400-cases mark. Nine days later, the total reached already 509 cases and on August 1st, the total number of cases reached a new record at 590. Worst, the country recorded its first deaths with three victims until Saturday. The new COVID-19 wave is now dashing any hopes for a revival of local tourism as travellers are now massively cancelling their booking inside the country. As new cases are being signalled also in Indonesia, the Philippines, in Hong Kong, in Japan but also -on a much smaller scale- in Cambodia and Myanmar, ASEAN tourism will still continue to stay in doldrums in the short term while local economies will continue suffering heavily. Until a vaccine is finally found.